The eagerly awaited update to Alien Skin’s Exposure, the popular analog film and print process emulation software, has arrived and Exposure 7 has now grown up into Exposure X. I just downloaded the 15-day trial version and have begun dipping my toes into the many improvements that have appeared with version X.
I have something of a soft spot for Alien Skin Exposure. It is unique amongst emulation software in simulating more than many of the great analog films and common chemical toning methods. In particular, it does a great job of emulating some of the more obscure, often arduous and sometimes ridiculously expensive printing processes of the past. For example, palladium and platinum printing.
I delved into both with a friend before giving them up as way too costly, then was chuffed to discover both were in heavy use at the collectable end of the photography market in the UK. Platinum printing aka platinotypes in particular played a major role in convincing art collectors there to dip their reluctant toes into the photographic waters after shying away for decades.
Brilliant emulation of classic & alternative analog films.
Platinotype and its sister the palladiotype are just one of many alternative or non-silver photographic printing processes to come and go over the years and all have their virtues. I was lucky enough to try out a few of them during my art school years. The last such method I used was lith printing, which uses diluted lithographic developer with conventional photographic paper to produce moody, flesh-and-sepia-toned prints that are especially appropriate for portrait subjects.
Platinotypes, palladiotypes and lith prints are just some of the many alternate printing processes beautifully emulated in Alien Skin Exposure. There is a raft of classic color films for stills photography and moviemaking, panchromatic monochrome photographic films, split toning processes, color and monochrome infrared films, vintage pre-celluloid plate negatives, color and monochrome instant films and more.
Two-in-one, merging Bokeh into Exposure.
Exposure also contains plenty of extra presets with exposure and contrast variations as well as vignetting and bokeh effects that were once contained within a separate piece of software named, oddly enough, Bokeh. So Exposure 7 and now X are a two-in-one deal, combing two applications in one.
Exposure X has added more options in its Bokeh category, with true-to-life pinhole camera, Petzval and freelensing presets. The Petzval preset is a pleasant surprise. I once owned an 8”x10” wooden studio camera with a Petzval portrait lens attached – I swapped it for a Plaubel Makina 120 format camera when I began roaming the planet for a spell.
More recently Lomo revived the Petzval lens design with its Lomography New Petzval 85 Art Lens and the New Petzval 58 Bokeh Control Art Lens will be released. Given the peculiarities of Petzval optics, digital emulation cannot duplicate those qualities exactly but Exposure X’s Petzval preset makes a damned good attempt at it.
And a fun one. Fun is always a factor when working with Alien Skin Exposure, I have found, combined with pleasure when applying a preset and seeing just how uncannily it evokes the look and feel of yesteryear.
Exposure has plenty of uses for the stills photographer but it makes an excellent visualization and looks planning tool for moviemaking too. I have often used stills processed to emulate the looks I have visualized for eventual footage in treatment documents and software like Exposure has a part to play in that.
The other value in using Exposure and its wide range of presets and photo editing tools is how it opens one’s mind to looks well beyond the usual. I can understand the apparent safety of resorting to the orange-teal look for blockbuster movies, but there is a universe of other possible looks available to us with contemporary color grading software.
Todd Miro’s Teal and Orange – Hollywood, Please Stop the Madness article from 2010 covers the reasons moviemakers still default to this look and its many downsides.
Exposure X is a terrific way of reminding oneself of what else is possible, and encapsulates those many possibilities within a standalone nondestructive photo editor or plug-in for Photoshop or Lightroom. Its many new features can be applied to raw files or non-raw file formats, as you will discover on giving the trial version a whirl.
Style your stills and visualize movie looks too with amazing Alien Skin Exposure X photo editor. Click To Tweet
Exposure X Introduction
Via Alien Skin:
Exposure X is the creative photo editor that handles every step of your workflow. From card transfer to organization to editing, Exposure simplifies routine tasks and delivers a rich set of tools for developing beautiful photos.
Exposure’s carefully researched library of styles gives your photos a human touch. Each look encompasses many subtle changes that work together to evoke emotion. Explore these visual ideas for inspiration and then quickly refine them to develop your own style.
Exposure streamlines photo management by eliminating burdensome chores. You don’t need to import photos into Exposure, so browsing is fast and easy. There are no user interface modules, which lets you edit and organize photos at the same time.
More about Simplicity
Exposure X – Simple
Exposure’s flexible features handle any photography workflow. Use it as a plug-in for Photoshop and Lightroom, or as a complete photo editor on its own. As a standalone app, Exposure X helps you quickly edit RAW photos non-destructively.
More about Flexibility
Exposure X – Speed
View tutorials here.
Get your Free Trial and Learn more about Exposure X.
(cover photo credit: snap from Karin Gottschalk)